The retail market is evolving, so what metrics should retailers be measuring? A new WGSN report outlines today’s parameters of success.
The dynamics of the fashion retail market are changing dramatically. Consumers today want instant gratification, and the instantaneous nature of platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat only increase this expectation. In terms of product, they want both constant updates that create a sense of newness, and also trans-seasonal pieces that take them through volatile weather and fit into increasingly flexible, casual workplaces.
In store, footfall is slowing as shoppers migrate to experiential spend, and online pureplays are exploiting their agility and superior data analytics to offer consumers exactly the right product at the right time. It is not an easy array of problems to solve, but some clarity is emerging on what retailers should be tracking. Trend forecaster WGSN’s Fashion Retail New Measure of Success report, released this week, outlines what brands should measure to ensure they are offering what consumers want.
1 From “brand love” to digital efficiency
WGSN found that the most-loved brands are not necessarily the ones consumers are actually shopping with: “Purchase frequency online is not directly correlated with brand love. The retailers that are successfully enabling purchase frequency online are pure plays that are not necessarily the most loved.”
The report surveyed 15,000 16-to-39-year-olds on their opinions on a range of brands. Perhaps surpisingly, beleaguered young fashion chain New Look came out on top for brand love in the UK. When respondents were asked how many times they had purchased womenswear from each retailer in the past year, however, Amazon, Asos, Boohoo and Missguided were the top four, while New Look fell to fifth place. The data suggests factors such as delivery, fulfilment options, availability, range of product, targeted marketing and newness should be prioritised alongside fostering a fondness for the brand.
2 Create a sense of excitement
Customer perception of a brand’s style used to matter above all – now, it is no longer enough. Instead, it is excitement and newness that make brands stand out, so speed to market should be the new focus. Pureplays are agile enough to respond quickly to trends, and they regularly update basics to create a sense of newness that encourages shoppers to visit often.
Pureplays’ marketing communications also excel. Entertaining wordplay, regularly updated and product-led editorial content, and high levels of social media engagement create a sense of freshness and an aspirational buzz that lead to higher purchasing frequency and a sense of urgency among customers.
3 Use data to stay one step ahead
Using data effectively is the only way to achieve the agility and responsiveness that pureplays exhibit.
But as Steve Brown, senior buying and planning manager at Calvin Klein says in the WGSN report: “Data is here to help, but it can be overwhelming for fashion businesses that have been accumulating vast amounts of data over a number of years. Focusing on the right data that uncovers consumer truth will definitely be key going forward.”
Despite the challenges, using data wisely is the only way to react to trends quickly and deliver the right product at the right time to shoppers. Data on customer behaviour, information from social media and pricing data all hold significant power for brands that need to keep their businesses relevant in an increasingly digitalised world.